The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: September 30th, 2014
Genre: Adult Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.
A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.
Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.
Honestly, the reason I was so intent on picking this book up was because I saw the trailer for the movie adaptation. When it comes to Nicholas Sparks, I tend to read his books right before the movie comes out (With the exception of A Walk to Remember and The Notebook because I was still young when those movies came out). Nevertheless, I could not have read this book at a better time… I had just finished reading A Dance With Dragons and watching both The 100 and Girls in their entirety. All of these stories having extremely heavy content and breaking my heart into pieces I thought would be impossible to mend. Enter Nicholas Sparks.
This book was funny and heartwarming, but tragic in it’s own way. Even though Sparks’ stories usually include the “insta-love” that everyone seems to hate, he acknowledges that the relationships are not flawless and they are not without obstacles. Although Ira, a man in his nineties, has lived a full, happy life, he is not without regrets. The story of Ira and Ruth’s past that parallels Sophia and Luke’s present is what really affected me. Reading about Ira’s past broke my heart. As a pilot in WWII he has experienced his fair share of tragedy, which only seemed to get worse when he was forced to come home and face his fiancee Ruth. Despite the fact that their marriage was plagued with tragedy and heartache, they were able to overcome it with the simple realization that they never wanted to be with anyone else. The memory of Ruth and their many years together is the only thing that keeps Ira alive in the terrible situation he has found himself in.
Sophia is a senior in university who has just gone through an earth-shattering break up (well, for her). Brian, her frat boy first love, cheated on her three times and now he seems to be everywhere she goes hoping to be able to convince her to take him back. I like Sophia’s character right from the beginning. She’s real, she’s relatable, and she’s interesting. The insta-love aspect didn’t bother me because I felt like she really deserved to find the right guy and fall in love. She spent a lot of time being broken over Brian so when her best friend Marcia asks her to go to the rodeo with the girls she, though somewhat reluctantly, agrees. This is where she meets Luke.
Luke is quite literally my dream man. I’ve always had a thing for cowboys and although I’ve never been to North Carolina, where this book takes place, I’ve been to Nashville, TN, which was pretty much the coolest place I’ve ever been. So yeah, I love cowboys. Luke’s character is somewhat reserved, really charming, and extremely hard working and driven. There were a few times where him and Sophia were fighting and I was actually getting mad and upset reading it… I think that just shows how invested I was in this relationship and this book in general. As a bullrider Luke puts himself at risk every time he participates in a rodeo… but it’s even worse for him because he has already been in an accident that almost cost him his life. However, when Sophia finds out what a risk it is for him to be riding she refuses to be with someone who willingly puts his life on the line. But the situation is a lot more complicated then either of them anticipated…
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was just the right book at the right time. Nicolas Sparks can honestly do no wrong when it comes to romance. If you like love stories, you like cowboys, and you also like a little bit of historical fiction thrown into the mix then you will love this book. Also, check out the trailer for the movie!
The movie already looks like there are a few changes to the plot, but the story is pretty complicated so I can understand why they would need to simplify it a bit to fit into a standard length movie. However, all the actors look like they are going to do a really great job and I can’t wait to see it!